Dishing It Out, with Barb Leonard

Our favorite contrarian is back, and she’s full of surprises as usual.

In this post, guest commentator Barb Leonard offers a few words of advice for the new Eureka City Council as it considers, again, the Jefferson School purchase.

You go, girl!

It’s baaaccckkkkk! Yup, just when it looked like two-hour meetings would be the norm, the new council decided going backward was more productive than solving current problems facing the city. Two and a half hours of numbing testimony re: Jefferson School didn’t teach them anything. They tabled the issue and will face it again tonight.

To re-cap: The West Side has a project (Jefferson School) they are enthusiastic about. The city has an opportunity, indeed has promised, to assist the neighborhood by purchasing that property. The purchase price is more than reasonable and a good investment for redevelopment money. There may be no redevelopment money in the
near future so it makes sense to invest what we can now.

Those two things should be a win-win for both the city of Eureka and the West Side neighbors who want to improve a derelict property. Shouldn’t our representatives applaud that effort instead of blocking it?

The collective hand-wringing over the city taking a financial hit doesn’t seem sensible to me. There are developers lining up to bail them out if the West Side Association should fail. Give the association a time line and hold them to it.

The enthusiasm of Heidi Benzonelli is contagious. I think she and her group can pull it off. If they don’t, the failure will be their own and the city can sell a piece of property that will at least be in better condition than the day they bought it.

Now, if Linda can keep a civil tongue, maybe the new council can view this issue as a road map to future harmony. The newly elected should remember they represent everyone. Reneging on a previous council action would not be a very harmonious beginning. In fact, it would be downright acrimonious. Let’s get ‘er done and move on!


42 Responses

  1. Oh it’s on now. Someone who reads the Mirror agreeing with someone who reads the Herald? It’s Ablogalypse Now!

  2. There is money to buy the property, there is no money for the additional $2.4 million to fix it up. There is no money for the $86,000 (per SHN) each year after that to maintain it after that.

    There are no tenants lined up who can afford to pay any rent. WHY ARE WE BUYING IT ?? This albatross is a perfect example of why governments at every level are on the verge of bankruptcy.

    Heidi Benzonelli is enthusiastic about spending OUR money, not hers. Benzonelli and Barb would never consider this project for a second if they were spending their own money.

  3. Repeal Obama care. Oops Barb, that would be reniging.

    The council has a duty to nix this if the numbers don’t crunch imho. I have an idea: why don’t you and Heidi finance this deal, guarantee the costs to fix it up and also the annual costs to maintain it. Face it girl, the well is dry and its time for a reality pill. Now chill little lady.

  4. You have missed the point. I know there is no money to restore the building to code. The city has never said they would bring Jefferson school up to code or even take care of the property. The neighborhood association has accepted those responsibilities.

    Before the government confiscates all the re-development money and there is none left, why not consider the money to purchase the property an investment for the city?

    It may be our money, but Jerry Brown doesn’t look at that way. He thinks it’s his and his plan is to take it all away from the cities to try to balance the state budget.

    The other point is to give the neighborhood a time line and hold them to it. If they don’t meet it, the city re-coups by selling it to a developer. This would have to be spelled out in spades, but I believe it’s doable. BTW, I know of two developers who would purchase that property in a New York minute.

    In the meantime, a potentially negative force in our community is occupied with a positive project. If it fails, the failure is theirs and the city can sell it for at least the amount they have put into it and hopefully more.

    I think, BTW, Heidi IS taking this on as a personal (neighborhood) expenditure. No where is the city held responsible except for the purchase. The association has to do the rest.

    In all things government, there is political capital to be gained or lost. Do we continue to fight the Us vs Them battle, or do we take the opportunity to let this association show us if it has more to offer than that eyesore on Wabash?

    I believe the city is in a win/win position. I also think the neighborhood is in a win/lose if they don’t find the funds in a timely manner. I’m all for them winning, but if they lose their credibility will be lost as well.

    IMO, I don’t see the down side as long as the city sticks with the initial deal which is for the purchase of the property and nothing else.

  5. If the city buys it the city will be responsible for it and will face liability for it.

    It there are 2 developers who will buy it in a NY minute then minutes in NY are REALLY long as the prop has been sitting unpurchased forever. Now C’mon Barb let it go. BTW I have a problem with spending money just to spend it. This state is in deep shit cause of that mentality. Let the RD money go to pay down our massive deficit and kick the rascals who spend with no real accountability out of office.

  6. But what does Police Chief Nielsen think about this particular issue?

    (A) whatever Larry Glass tells him to think

  7. Garr is irrelevant. He is gone at the end of his contract so who cares. Now back to Barb.

  8. I agree with Barb completely. but I DON’T think the project as it is projected can fly, long term it doesn’t pencil out but let this group try. I too served as a volunteer for a fledgling organization with lofty goals and we were told time and again that what we wanted to do could not be done but “knock yourselves out trying” We did, and we succeeded.

    I feel that the new council is responding to the citizens right now and trying to err on the side of fiscal responsibility , I get it BUT…I would like to see the council give them a time line with measurable goals… killing this now is truly unnecessary. The city can sell it just as easily, perhaps more so, in a year if they fail.

  9. I disagree. I’d like them to be fiscally responsible. In fact I’d like the county, state and feds to be fiscally responsible.

  10. OK, help me out here Barb. The property is currently owned by the school district / us?

    If redevelopment money goes to purchase it (money that if not used will revert to the state who will squander it in the way they squander ever dime they get) then the school district / we benefit?

  11. So, letting the re-development money sit where it is only to be confiscated by the state is fiscally responsible?

    Seems to me investing those dollars while we still can would be more fiscally responsible. There are bigger pictures out there than just thinking in terms of dollars and cents.

    I am not a “sunshine and roses’ kind of gal, but I do not see the down side for the city or the community at large to give the West Side a shot at doing something that could result in a great big positive for all of us.

    Even if they fail I can promise you the city will re-coup any investment dollars. I have had personal conversations with 3 developers who want that property. They have mouths to feed and workers to employ, so you could say they are highly motivated.

    We can agree to disagree, but giving a small hand up to the West Side is not all gloom and doom. The general fund is not affected and the liability issue can be resolved putting the onus on the West side.

  12. Ok the choice is we squander it and be fiscally liable for it or the money goes to bail out our fiscally irresponsible state debt? No brainer for me. Pay down the damn debt. Hey Dancing, who have you voted for over the last 20 years. I bet its the folks responsible for squandering. Just a guess.

  13. Yup, guilty as charged. I’ll guar-on-tee you that every governor I ever voted for and won (or didn’t vote for and won anyway) participated in the squandering.

  14. as an aside, I didn’t vote for the dip stick we have now.

  15. Ok we can kiss and make up then. What made you see the light? The squandering mentality is pervasive but if you speak up about it you are no longer liberal or a democrat. In fact you won’t be considered human and must be destroyed. It has been suc an enjoyable and regressive decade I could just shit.

  16. Let’s be clear…squandering is not exclusive to Democrats. Plenty of waste among the Republicans, it’s just subjective what constitutes waste and squander.

    News flash…fiscally conservative Democrats are sprinkled all across this nation, it’s just that Humboldt County sees few of my persuasion. Yes, Anonymous, I am a Democrat.

  17. I know you are. So am I. HC hates our kind. They call us Bush and Palin. Whoopie!

  18. If it already belongs to one government agency, why can’t the title just be switched? It isn’t their money, it is ours. Saves the city $$., and the schools already have financial problems because of pension liabilities. Some teacher complained that they are being asked to pay $400/month for health insurance. They currently pay less than $150/mo now. that inclludes dental and vision for their entire family. I am self employed and pay $8000/year, $5000 deductable, no vision or dental. But I am suppose to feel forry for those teachers who get the summer off and exactly how many holidays off? The schoools need to quit feeding in the public trough if they want my sympathy.

  19. I am with you. A small business owner I pay the same. I get no overtime, bo holidays and no county car or cellphone. I treat my employees well but could never keep my door open for business if I had to provide the bene’s that my teacher friends get. And guess what? No tenure. If I fuck up my business goes under. Pay down the state debt and get fiscally responsible. I am glad we aren’t going to waste money on buying that train wreck property.

  20. This deal is crazy. There is nothing more to be said. It MUST not be purchased by the City. We can’t afford it.
    Barb, you are all wet on this one.

  21. Ok if there are two developers who want to buy this property and do something with it then let them. It’ll add to our tax base and be more productive.

  22. City, county and state entities are having to divest property, and this is no time to take on an additional cost.

    California is toast, and if anyone thinks giving back the redevelopment money is going to change that you are crazy. This last election we just put back in the same old people that put the state in this position (no, it wasn’t Arnold, and no, Brown can’t fix it either until you replace every single one of them) – people like Chesbro – not only that but you voted to give them power to spend more money than they have faster than ever before.

    You think they’re going to cut spending? Hah! Only the spending they know matters to you – essential services – then they will say that’s proof they need higher and higher and higher taxes and more fees – more gas tax, higher vehicle registration fees, more sales tax, higher income tax – then they’ll finally prevail at getting Prop. 13 repealed and you are all totally screwed. And you did it to yourselves.

    Other states know how to attract business, and thus are prospering – they advertise here because they know it is ripe territory, and our businesses – the kind who would LOVE to take on a project like that school reno – are leaving to go where they are welcome.

    Change that – and maybe, just maybe, you can save California. But it has to start by getting rid of the clowns that put you in this mess. Like the Junior, what is he now? Calling himself a Junior something or other when he has been there for 265 years. It’s a joke.

  23. OK – gremlins stole my avatar… dang wordpress and suddenlink, we’re connected.

  24. Thank God we have four members on the city council who are fiscally responsible now !!!!!!

    This new city council’s average IQ must be at least 30 points higher than last years !!!!!!

  25. 8:30: I take issue with your having possibly included Jeff Leonard in your assertion of the former councils low IQ.

    If you take into account that Larry Glass has the IQ of a goat (sorry if I just insulted anyone’s pet) then your numbers still pencil out.

  26. Can you hear the whine. Sweet music to my ears. Actually you did insult the goats. At least you did not make a personality comparison. That would have really pissed them off.

    Jefferson school was ready to be picked up by CR. The progs Ie. lovelace, glass, atkins, etc. went after CR about the deal. It would have been done by now. Stupid fucks on H blog don’t realize the city fathers have to take into consideration the whole city. Oh and reality. No more living on loans/grants/etc. Anon that wrote if it is such a good deal let Hedi and the westsiders invest had it right.

  27. The US vs. Them lives on. This issue WAS about all of Eureka. The city council voted against investing the money and voted to withdraw from the escrow.

    One wonders how much they have to leave on the table in order to do it.

    Clearly, the newbies on the council are not up to speed on what funds are used for what. No, Mike, the re-development money cannot be used for sewers and street improvements or even public safety.

    I am fine with their decision. I get that they don’t feel comfortable investing $600 K at this stage of their experience on the council. I would rather have heard some sound reasons behind the decision rather than the grasping at straws to validate their vote.

    Linda did a magnificent job of presenting the case for the West Side. It was merely a question of (as Jeff asked from the floor): Are you going to purchase the property and thus have a say in the development of it, or are you not going to purchase the property.

    The council made their decision so it’s history. I hope the West Side Association will work with whomever buys it. The city is now out of the loop.

  28. The ultra idiots over at HH are in a daisy blow chain melting down over this. Recall is being tossed around. Hey Barb you need to tell them about your 2 developers who are prepared to buy this in a NY second. Maybe then they’ll stop their nuclear meltdown.

  29. Pssst! The whirling dervishes at HH will go into orbit if they get wind that developers are interested in that property. Better keep it hush, hush.

  30. Damn Barb you crack me up woman!

  31. Looks like the rainbow landed on the Arcata Plaza. ‘Bout pissed myself laughing.

  32. What rainbow? What are you talking about? Seems interesting.

  33. I know Greg Pierson wants to buy it, apply for a multifamily zoning change, subdivide & develop.  Is he on that list Barb?

  34. Great. There were only 126 bldg permits applied for last year. Like who is going to buy squat with bo possible jobs available unless you are growing or trimming dope. Oh wait a minute. The trimmers are from out of town and the growers. Well they are just supplementing their untaxable income. Sheesh. Oh don’t mind me. I pay my taxes and SS. And why am I supposed to hate big corps? Taves, the environment, not paying for employees, paying corrupt politicians. Oh my.

  35. There ya go – A POT trimming facility – all the more reason not to pay for it with taxpayer dollars.

  36. On heraldo they’re talking about taking donations to BUY the School – This is an excellent idea and should be supported. It’s the right thing for the right reasons.

  37. Heidi says:
    February 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm
    It will take 600000, this project will not bear another 600 in debt up front, however, we may be able to reduce construction costs considerably by not using redevelopment funds (prevailing wage).

    I am in for $100

    Send your
    phone number,
    donation amount,
    email address and
    comment including expiration date of offer to

    I will keep everyones name confidential until such a time that we decide this will or will not work then I will email you instructions. It is worth a shot I guess.

  38. According to heraldo Pledges are at $113,200 as of 9:20 this morning. (Friday)

  39. Wow, Barb, Thank you! I hadn’t read this before and stumbled upon it accidentally. Thank you. Heidi

  40. Now that’s a grassroots effort!

  41. $600,000 is not the end, it really isn’t even a beginning.

    You need three million dollars and maybe more.

  42. HiFi,

    You are just so mean. MEAN, MEAN MEAN MEAN!!!

    This project is good. GOOD, GOOD, GOOD, GOOD!!!

    (course there are no resources to fund this project, but these are the “facts”, such as they are, hurled at HiFi over in Heraldoville).

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